How to Unleash the Full Potential of the Internet of Things

An EU initiative will help companies create new platforms for connected smart objects with minimal investment.

high-performance chips, drug delivery, human brain, healthy weight loss, electric ferries, Blood pressure, eye diseases, innovative system, plastic pollution, Zika virus, sandfly-borne disease, implants, Volcanic ash, 3D-printed propeller blade, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, humanoid, folate deficiency, flooded mines, Alzheimer’s, Cranberries, type 1 diabetes, graphene mass production, Internet of Things, search engine, autonomous driving, Foodborne diseases, hydrogen generation, Human Cell Division, Borneo cave, cannabis-based drugs, laser material, GHz signals, corals, Hydrogen Production, tidal renewable energy, Antibiotic-Free Treatment, mental disorders, cancer, Synthetic Biology Research, Parkinson’s, Turbine Technology, Chronic Lung Disease, smart technology, Water monitoring device, aircraft wing design, energy consumed, Climate Change, Rett Syndrome, Perovskite-silicon solar cell, Low Back Pain, Heart Valves Implanted, heat pump, Floating device, honeybee, Workplace with Robots, power devices, Railway Sleepers, Minor cereals, paralysed, fibre optic, ultra-thin membranes, cold on a plane, diabetes genes, microcapsules, Electromagnetic radiation, Cold-loving bacteria, Artificial intelligence, Silicon Chips, Magnetic E-Skins, dog, climate change, Intestinal worms, antisocial behaviour, immune system, Bicarbonate, Neonatal seizures, insects, Alzheimer's disease, photovoltaic, Integrated Circuits, stress, human intelligence, quantum, OLED, smart glass, magnetic devices, mites, breathing monitor, spider silk, Cetaceans, Alzheimer, MNS robots, blindpad, photonics, remote medical diagnostic, sensors, Photovoltaic Panels, Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, WINESENSE, combustion, multiple myeloma, sugar and mood, arctic waters, ultrawine, heliospheric, lunar exploration, Brain Diseases, fingertips, trees, earthquakes, gene therapies, climate change, nuclear waste, quantum, brain diseases, solar power, pulmonary disease, solidification, global warming, photovoltaic cells, drone, antiobiotic-resistant bacteria, Graphene, energy efficiency, magnetic data storage, immunology, Genetic plant, Antarctic, Alzheimer, Magnetic attraction, Huntington’s disease, bone repair, earthquakes, photonic crystals, brain, immunodeficiency, Internet of Things, spinal cord injuries, Dietary restriction, Bacterial DNA, NEUROMICS, huntington's

By 2030, the world is expected to have 43 megacities that host more than 10 million inhabitants, while by 2050 it is likely that 68 % of the world population will live in urban areas, according to a UN report. With continued urbanisation, successful management of cities has become more important than ever. Thanks to its potential to improve the quality of life in areas ranging from energy and environment to transportation and healthcare, the concept of smart cities is increasingly becoming popular.

Although the Internet of Things (IoT) is seen as a key component of smart city initiatives such as improving pollution levels or traffic conditions, its full potential remains untapped. A major obstacle hindering further innovation is the development of vertical silos around IoT data. These affect the ability of developers to produce added value services across multiple platforms and sectors. 

The EU-funded bIoTope project has been addressing this issue by running a series of smart city pilot projects in Brussels, Lyon and Helsinki. An additional pilot will be deployed in St Petersburg, Russia. 

The project website notes that domain-specific and cross-domain smart city pilots will be utilised “to validate the effectiveness of the bIoTope Systems-of-Systems platform for IoT.” These involve various areas, including electric car charging stations, self-managing buildings and equipment, and smart air quality. They also “provide concrete proofs-of-concept of IoT system composition and interoperability scenarios in smart city environments.” These include smart metering, shared electric vehicles, smart lighting and hyper-local weather data, as well as smart priority lanes for bikes.

Interoperability and openness

In an opinion piece, Dr Michelle Supper, Forum Director of the Open Platform 3.0 Forum, at The Open Group., says: “The use of open, non-proprietary standards will be essential to the future success of smart cities.” Dr Supper explains the process with an example: “Consider an autonomous vehicle taking a smart citizen to an office building. Having delivered its passenger, the vehicle would then connect to the city’s IoT, and communicate with the local facilities to find and select a parking space and charging point. On the way to the parking space, the vehicle may access the city’s weather monitoring and traffic light systems, to exchange information on factors such as safety or road conditions.”

She emphasises the importance of seamless communication between various systems. “Without an agreed standard for data formatting and messaging structures between the system manufacturers, it is unlikely that such interoperability would be possible.”

A key objective of the bIoTope (Building an IoT OPen innovation Ecosystem for connected smart objects) project is to provide “the necessary standardised Open APIs [application programming interfaces] to enable interoperability between today’s vertical IoT silos,” as stated on its website. API refers to a particular set of rules and specifications that software programmes can follow to communicate with each other. Project partners believe the bIoTope platform “enables IoT product and service providers to quickly develop and deploy IoT solutions utilising diverse information sources, which are easily integrated to compose more advanced and higher value solutions without substantial development costs.”

For more information, please see:bIoTope project website